Keep your honeymoon debt-free

Don't let financial stress intrude on your honeymoon. Here are four ways to keep your honeymoon within your budget.

Zohra Bensemra/Reuters/File
Tourists relax on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia.

As if weddings weren't expensive enough, you've also got to consider the cost of the traditional vacation afterwards. I know that a lot of couples who are paying for their own weddings might see this as a frivolous waste of money, but I have to disagree. After all the stressful planning, you and your new spouse deserve to spend some quality time together. You do not have to jet off across the world and spend two weeks on a beach sipping $12 drinks, but you should plan a trip within your means for after you tie the knot. After all, you've earned it!

If paying out of pocket for a trip, even for a weekend, is just not in the cards for you, there are several options that might help with some of that financial stress that don't include taking out a loan or getting into credit card debt. Here's how my husband and I made it work after our wedding last fall:

Use credit cards (wisely!) to pay for wedding expenses.

No, per the title of this article, I am not recommending you go into debt for your wedding. In fact, I recommend you do whatever you can to steer clear of that. But if you're spending your hard earned money on this wedding, you should be earning the perks. There are so many credit cards out there that signing up for one and really starting to learn about points and air miles might seem daunting. Don't let it be daunting. If you don't have a preference, pick a card and just start earning. I highly recommend the Chase Sapphire card if you're just starting out. We signed up for the card a year before our wedding and every time a payment was due for our big day we'd ask, "Do you take credit cards?"

We'd pay off our bill at the end of each month (Yes, really! We never had a balance above $0 after each statement period), so we did not go into any crazy credit card debt. But by the end of our wedding, with the points we'd accrued and our sign up bonus, we had enough to cover a $1,200 round trip flight with no cash out of pocket to book. I ended up using these points for a flight to Norway later because we'd already booked our honeymoon with an amazing deal through Expedia and we'd had enough cash saved up because of the following advice:

Create a honeymoon registry (and actually tell people about it).

When I was planning my wedding I was blown away by how many people bash the honeymoon registry. I read posts calling them everything from "tacky" to "money grubbing," and it honestly made me laugh. My husband and I lived together for six years before making it official and we had tons of kitchen gadgets and home decor, but neither of us had a single stamp in our passports. We wanted that vacation more than anything, so we asked for it and we weren't ashamed. We didn't need any gifts, money or otherwise. But if people wanted to get us something, why not give them the option to choose from either our traditional registry or from our honeymoon registry?

We used Traveler's Joy and were very happy with the service. There is a small fee that you can choose to have your guests pay, or you can cover it yourself. We chose the latter. All the gifts are purchased by guests in the form of events like "Dinner Out" or "Couples Massage," but when you redeem your gifts they just transfer all the cash to your bank account for you to do what you wish. This was a great option for out of town guests or for people who couldn't make it. They didn't have to bring anything or even remember to send a card because it was all done online. We ended up with a fair amount of cash to spend on our honeymoon and the stress relief we felt about our finances far outweighed any anxiety about people thinking it was tacky.

Consider a destination wedding.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you've always dreamed of a beach wedding, consider doing a destination wedding package. These packages are convenient and take a lot of stress out of planning. Plus, for the bride and groom, they don't require much more cash than a traditional home-town wedding. Yes, your guests will have to pay more, but if what you're looking for is to cut down on your own expenses, consider it. You'll already be in a gorgeous location for your vows and won't spend a penny more on airfare after the fact. Worried about having your family tag along on your special vacation? Ask the hotel that helped you tie the knot if they have any sister hotels in the area for the two of you to celebrate your honeymoon sans guests. Plus, throwing out the H-word might get you some newlywed deals and perks!

Some amazing budget beach-wedding locations worth researching: Mexico, Jamaica, Florida, and the Dominican Republic. To save even more, try booking these near the off season. As long as you avoid hurricane season, the weather even in the off-peak months should be fair enough for an outside bash.

Plan your honeymoon for later.

This is something a lot of my friends have done and I think it's so smart: plan your honeymoon for six months to a year after your wedding date. True, you won't get to jet off and relax the day after your wedding, but will you really be relaxing if you're constantly worried about the financial burden the trip is putting on you and your new spouse? I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to be in a good financial place when you pay for both your wedding and your honeymoon. If your wedding is setting you back, don't add more financial stress by forcing your honeymoon to happen immediately. Plan it for later. Plus, looking forward to and planning an amazing trip with your new bride or groom gives you yet another thing to bond over and be excited about those first few months of marriage.

Another perk of planning your honeymoon for later is that the destination options are truly endless. Say you get married in November and it's too cold for the beach honeymoon you've always wanted. If you wait to go on your honeymoon, you can plan for the following year when it warms up and before tourist season has even begun. Look at off-season options, too. Don't forget that the hot spots might not always be your best bet and looking a off the beaten path will stretch your hard-earned honeymoon budget even further. Here are our favorite off-season travel destinations, sorted by month!

No matter what your dream vacation may be, with some planning and some hard work, you and your new spouse can take it without putting yourself in a financial jam. Hey, you already planned a blowout party for probably close to 100+ people, you can handle this whole honeymoon thing!

This article first appeared at Brad's Deals.

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